Licensed Parachutist Medical - Frequently asked Questions

 FAQs below from (i) the Licensed Parachutist; (ii) Relatives/friends; (iii) Doctors; and (iv) Instructors / Drop Zone Operators.

 
(i) From the Licensed Parachutist:


Q: My own GP doesn’t want to be involved in assessing me or issuing a certificate. What should I do?

A: You can approach any other doctor in your area for a private sports medical. That other doctor may wish to contact your own GP for information to ensure there is no medical problem preventing them signing your form. Read the first paragraph of BPA Form 115F for details of how to find a doctor who is likely to be willing to do this sort of medical. Alternatively, ask your nearest flying club about who does their pilots' medicals.

 

Q: The doctor doing my private medical wants to see my NHS medical record. How can I obtain this?

A: The Data Protection Act entitles you to obtain a copy of your NHS record from your GP. Nowadays most GPs have your current records and a lifetime summary on a computer database, with your old paper records kept in storage. At present (2017) you can apply for a printout of your entire computerised record for a maximum charge of £10. From 25 May 2018, even this charge is eliminated by the Data Protection General Regulation. Obtaining copies of old records held purely on paper can be more expensive but is rarely necessary.

 

Q: I have a doctor’s certificate on the old Form 114. Do I now need a new doctor’s certificate on the new Form 115F?

A: No. Your old doctor’s certificate on Form 114 remains valid for the interval specified on the form and can be used until that date. Once your Form 114 has passed its date of validity, you should use form 115E or 115F as appropriate.

 

Q: I want to jump again tomorrow and I’ve only just seen that I will need a doctor’s certificate. Can the BPA Medical Adviser clear me to jump if I talk to them?

A: Sorry, NO. You will need to approach your own doctor or specialist using BPA Form 115F. Postpone jumping until you have been able to do this.

 

Q: My own GP/specialist says I am not fit to jump. What can I do?

A: Your doctor is no longer being asked to say you are fit to jump. He or she is being asked to assess your risk as No Extra Risk, Acceptable Extra Risk. Acceptable Risk if the Chief Instructor is Informed or Unacceptable Risk. This allows a doctor far more leeway to issue a certificate provided you are aware of and accept moderate extra risks.  It also allows quite a bit of room for negotiation by the licenced parachutist with his or her doctor.  our own GP/specialist probably knows more about you than any other doctor. If your own doctor feels you have unacceptable risks for jumping, it is unlikely that any other doctor will certify you as fit, and at the very least you should carefully consider your doctor’s advice. Without a doctor’s certificate, you should not jump. This is for your protection. If your doctor wishes advice on whether your level of risk is acceptable, he/she can telephone BPA HQ for contact details of the BPAs Medical Adviser. The Association’s Medical Adviser will not try to alter your doctor’s decision in any particular direction but will simply provide advice.

 

Q: Why is the advice about blood donation so complicated? Couldn’t you just have a short fixed time after donation before returning to jumping?

A: Until 2017, the BPA Operations Manual had contained a fairly blunt statement that ‘Sport parachutists are advised that parachuting and giving blood are not compatible’. The new medical forms are intended to allow a more flexible approach to this socially beneficial activity without putting safety or performance at risk. 

The volume of donated fluid is replaced quite rapidly but the return of full oxygen carrying capacity is less predictable.  This is important for performance above 8000ft and and for avoidance of hypoxia related problems. With drop zones regularly operating at altitudes of up to 15,000ft, jumpers are already at the edge of their hypoxia tolerance even when in perfect health. A large framed well muscled young jumper giving blood for the first time and having a diet rich in iron would normally be expected to have a fairly rapid return to normal blood levels but a small framed jumper with iron stores depleted by recurrent donation, a vegetarian diet or heavy/long periods may have a prolonged recovery. 

The reality is that the BPA has no knowledge of, or control over, what you do when away from the dropzone. However, the Association does have a responsibility to give advice to help you manage your level of risk.

 

Q: My own Doctor is not sure whether I am fit to jump.

A: Your doctor can telephone BPA HQ for contact details for the BPA Medical Adviser.

 

Q: Can I skydive with asthma?

A: You will need to take advice from your own GP or specialist, using Form 115F. Please also download BPA Form 252 ‘Asthma & Skydiving’ (enter '252' or 'asthma' in the Forms Search Box in the header of this page). Ensure your doctor has sight of both documents before you see your doctor.

 

Q: I think I have such a mild form of a condition that it is unimportant for parachuting. Do I need to seek a doctor’s advice instead of just signing a declaration of fitness myself?

A: Many medical conditions exist on a spectrum ranging from perfect health at one end, through minor and infrequent symptoms of no importance to skydivers, then moderate symptoms and then severe or life-threatening symptoms. Inevitably there is room for some judgement or discretion at the ‘minor symptom’ end of the range.  This may apply particularly if you have successfully jumped with the symptom or diagnosis for many years and have no regular medication for it and no continuing need to see a doctor for it. However, this FAQ page cannot make that decision for you. If you are in the slightest doubt, you should seek your doctor’s advice.

 

Q: I have a medical condition and I’m not sure if I will be OK to jump or to get a medical certificate. Can you tell me if I will be OK to jump, to save me contacting my own doctor?

A: Sorry, NO. Your own GP or specialist has the most detailed technical information about you. Please take BPA Form 115F to your own GP or specialist for advice.

 

Q: I have a medical condition that is not mentioned on BPA Form 115E but would like advice on whether it affects my fitness to jump. Who can advise me?

A: Approach your own GP or specialist with BPA Form 115F.

 

Q: I have obtained a doctor’s Form 115F stating I have normal or acceptable extra risk for jumping but am still concerned that I may not be fit to jump. What should I do?

A: Do not jump unless you are happy to do so and to accept the risks that are always attached to a parachute jump and any extra risks that come with your medical condition. If you wish to discuss further, please contact the BPA Medical Adviser. BPA HQ can provide contact details.

 

Q: My doctor wants to charge me £80 for this medical but my friend’s doctor did his for only £10. Why don’t you have a low fixed price for this sort of thing?

A: In Britain it is against the law to try to set a fixed price for this sort of service. It is between the doctor and applicant to negotiate a mutually acceptable fee. You are free to shop around.

 

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 (ii) From relatives/friends


Q: A friend or relative has a medical condition that is placing them or other parachutists at risk. They have not had medical advice or have had it and are ignoring it. What should I do?

A: If your relationship permits it, discuss with the affected parachutist and make them aware of your concerns. If this is not practicable or if you feel the problem is not resolved, you may contact their doctor, their chief instructor or the BPA’s Safety & Technical Officer.

 

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 (iii) From Doctors:


Q: My patient has approached me with form 115F but I am still unsure about their fitness to jump.

A: Please contact BPA HQ to obtain contact details for the Association’s Medical Adviser.

 

Q: My patient has asthma and I am not sure whether they are fit to jump. Can I have some advice?

A: Please download BPA Form 252 ‘Asthma and Skydiving’ from the BPA website. If this does not answer the question, please telephone BPA HQ for contact details of the Association’s Medical Adviser.

 

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 (iv) From Instructors or Drop Zone Operators:


Q: A licenced jumper has a doctor’s certificate but the doctor has added extra information to the form. What does it mean and where does this leave me?

A: Additional medical information on the form will usually invalidate it. A Parachute Training Organisation or parachute instructors are not expected to interpret extra medical information (even when the handwriting is legible!). If the licensed parachutist is unable to obtain a 115F free of additional medical statements, they should not jump. Non-medical information or riders restricting parachuting may sometimes be allowable if they directly refer to parachuting activity and are easily understood by the PTO staff (eg ‘May not act as jumpmaster’).

 

Q: A licenced jumper has a Self Declaration of Fitness (Form115E) but I don’t feel they are fit / I have good reason to believe they have a significant medical condition that is not being declared. What should I do?

A: The Chief Instructor has the last word on who can jump at the drop zone and can request a doctor’s medical certificate for any jumper if there are concerns about the possibility of an overlooked medical condition. Form 115E is only valid when completed truthfully.

 

Q: A licenced jumper has a doctor’s certificate of normal or acceptable risk but I don’t feel they are fit / I feel they are not up to it / they can’t do all the things I feel they should be able to do. What should I do?

A: The Chief Instructor has the last word on who can jump at the drop zone.  Possession of a doctor’s certificate should never get in the way of either poor performance or worrying patterns of behaviour being properly addressed. BPA HQ can provide contact details for the Association’s Medical Adviser if you need further advice.

 

Q: A licenced jumper has a signed doctor’s certificate but no doctor’s stamp. Is this valid?

A: There are some doctors who do not possess a rubber stamp but who are still qualified to give a medical assessment. The purpose of the stamp is to allow clear and legible identification of, and contact details for, the signing doctor. Provided hand written details meet this criterion, they are acceptable.

 

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Updated 25 August 2017

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